Dubai holiday highlights

Dubai Luxury Holidays
Dubai’s most lavish hotels are more than just the best in the country – they set the bar for hotels around the world to emulate with their over-the-top interiors and impressive inclusions. The crème de la crème come with sensational views, a collection of Michelin-starred restaurants and the VIP factor of being able to swing by sister hotels where there are even more facilities at your disposal. Our Kuoni Collection shows off the very best hotels for luxury holidays to Dubai, like the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, the sail-shaped billion-pound hotel which stands on its own spit of sand. And while everything in Dubai is usually supersized, there are some hotels that are both grand and intimate like One&Only The Palm Dubai, which has been voted Dubai’s most luxurious hotel in TripAdvisor’s Travellers’ Choice Awards.

Dubai Beaches
The beaches in Dubai are made for pleasure seekers. You can join the colourful display of crescents in the sky at Kite Beach and learn how to windsurf in its warm waters, or get Instagrammable snaps of the lavish Burj Al Arab Jumeirah from Sunset Beach. Head to The Beach at JBR for a cool hangout space complete with a manicured beach, big-brand eateries and flashy cars brandished in names like McLaren and Maserati – it’s also close to The Walk, where you can go shopping or cool off with a scoop of gelato. Jumeirah Beach focuses on simple sand-and-sea fun better suited to travellers who prefer relaxation over lively activities, though it can get fairly busy in peak season. Many of Dubai’s beach hotels can be found along Jumeirah Beach, including the wave-shaped Jumeirah Beach Hotel, the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah and hotels that are part of impressive resort complexes like Jumeirah Al Naseem – which includes unlimited access to the Wild Wadi Waterpark™ – and the super opulent The Palace at One&Only Mirage. Or sunbathe on the sandy fronds of a man-made island. The Palm Jumeirah is an artificial island built in the shape of a palm tree, where each frond is laced with private beaches for each luxury hotel and resort. There are fantastic beach resorts on Palm Jumeirah Island, which include family showstopper resort, Atlantis the Palm, and its Aquaventure Waterpark which hotel guests get unlimited access to.

Where is Dubai?
The city and state of Dubai is on the north-east coast of the United Arab Emirates, south of the Arabian (Persian) Gulf. It’s around an hour and a half’s drive north-east of the capital, Abu Dhabi, and has excellent connections from its international airport which makes it an easy stopover choice en route to long-haul destinations from the UK.

Shopping
If Dubai is famous for anything, it’s shopping. There’s currently no tax on purchases in Dubai so you can look for deals on designer goods, or just enjoy the impressive, air-conditioned interiors of the huge malls. Dubai Mall is the largest in the world and has over 1000 stores, a virtual reality theme park and an Olympic-sized ice rink. Items that are usually better value in Dubai are local fabrics and gold which you can find at dedicated gold souks – just be sure to buy from reputable stores to avoid being sold fake items. Part of the Madinat Jumeirah Resort, the Souk Madinat Jumeirah is a meticulous replica of an Arabic souk surrounded by waterways.

Food & drink
Food is of a high standard in Dubai, with plenty of international options across central shopping areas and in hotels and resorts. Eating out is generally more expensive than in the UK; a pint of beer costs around £6 and a dinner for two with a bottle of wine in a mid-range restaurant can cost between £25 and £60 depending on the restaurant. Fast-food outlets are common for a quick and reasonably priced bite and you’ll be spoilt for choice if you like to try something different every day. There are classic Italian restaurants with wood-burning ovens, celebrity restaurants for acclaimed sushi and edgy European twists and spectacular chandelier-strewn venues for decadent seafood. Authentic Emirati cuisine can be hard to come by, but there are restaurants serving up Arabic dishes like mandi (spiced meat and rice) and dishes made with chickpea, tahini, flatbreads, salad and grilled meat and fish. Stop by a café for sweet dates and a cup of Arabic coffee – a classic set-up for locals meeting up with friends. To satisfy your sweet tooth, try the Egyptian bread pudding umm ali, a favourite in many Arabic countries.

Getting around

Taxis are one of the easiest and cheapest ways to get around Dubai. They are marked and metered, and easily hailed in public areas. The super modern Dubai Metro stops at Dubai Mall and the Burj Khalifa, Deira, Dubai Marina and Dubai airport.

Dubai key facts

Time difference

GMT +4 hours

Currency

Dirham

Flying time to destination

6¾ hours

Language

Arabic. English is widely understood.

Passport & visas

•  Make sure you have a full 10-year passport.
•  British and Irish passport holders don’t need a visa.

Dubai good to know

Etiquette

• A tourist tax applies to all hotels in Dubai and is only payable locally.

Tipping

Expect a 15-18% service charge to be added to most bills.